The pre-show weather gave the night a unique feeling, having been on the cusp of raining all day- but entirely undecided.

It was another chilly June -another surprise brought to you by living in the great white north.

The weather was also reflected in the unique set put on by The Barr Brothers later that evening. A performance that overflowed, but ended the evening much like the weather: containing itself.

The Barr Brothers really know how to make music a living auditory experience and not just one dependent on sound but one that invites you through the atmosphere and the decoration of their home. It is like an invitation to their own personal jam space. They will set it up for you!

In mid set, Brad Barr (guitar, vocals) explained the the set-up to the audience “we brought everything here. Our living room is completely empty!”

Cabaret Mile End was a perfect venue for The Barr Brothers music. The dim lights, the candles at every table. Reminiscent of an old lounge show.

The audience remained transfixed, each table glowing with candle flickers, each face red from the tint of the stage.

If you have ever been to a Barr Brothers show you probably know that the band will bring everything with them, everything that is…except for the kitchen sink!

Their beautiful antique lamps with golden embroidered shades decorated the set,   while beautiful little white light bulbs decorated the top of the stage as well as the harp.

How comfortable do the Barr Brothers get during their shows, playing in a reasonable facsimile of their living room? Pretty comfortable, I’d say.

When Sarah Page sits on the floor playing along with the band- you can just imagine their jam time in their own living room. It made me feel welcome and added to the lounge atmosphere of the show.

The show moves between quiet nights and thunderstorms. At times there was humming noise, unclear, undefined. But at other times, they was also a pure and raw sound, punctuated with screaming electric or deep country acoustic riffs.

Every once and a while Brad Barr took out his Bo Diddley square guitar to play some of his sweet country and blues riff songs.

In this way, The Barr Brothers fluctuated between the quiet patter of nighttime rainfall and loud whiskey rough blues songs before moving on to loud and powerful electric riffs.

If you are taken to falling asleep while a harp is playing, then you can always wake up to screaming riffs that shock the song alive.

The pattern during the show seemed to move between volumes. But at all times it captivated the audience, giving off the perfect ambiance.

The Barr Brothers set started off with some ambient noise that turned into a song. The second song was greeted by cheers, especially when the harp began to play those happy notes from Old Mythologies. This is a song that stayed in my mind for hours.

One look at the audience told me they were a little subdued but entertained by the music that was at times slow and cerebral; but all this changed a few songs in, as the audience was cheering and alive for the opening notes of Lord I just can’t keep from Cryin‘.

They also played another one of my favorite songs Give the Devil Back his Heart, which brings out the root elements in their music. You can see how The Barr Brothers influences are amalgamated into one song-writing technique.

One of the closing songs was Beggar in the morning, a nice trip song that reminds me of a long drive home. It was the perfect way to end the set.

Compared with the Toronto show– I’d have to say that The Dakota Tavern is smaller but had a pretty good sound for the Barr Brothers. Since I had only seen a short set at their Toronto appearance the longer set was appreciated, and fit well with the cold and contemplative evening, especially the light bluesy songs they played during their encore.

In terms of sound quality the show went off without a hitch. Even when Brad’s guitar strings were held by a few audience members, extending all the way to the back of venue, and Andrew Barr   passed out water-filled wine glasses,   so that the audience could carry on a reverberation of sound in the foreground, the sound quality was still solid and clear.
Barr Brothers – “Beggar In The Morning” by indiemusicfilter

The opening act Elfin Saddle sounded way better than I expected. And that is strange because I listened to a few tracks before the show and I thought I wouldn’t enjoy them, but the harmonies they sang were beautifully timed and very pleasant. Can’t wait to hear more from them.

* photos by Cindy Lopez

 

I stepped outside of my tent and instantly noticed how many cars had disappeared from the campgrounds.

People traveled from far and wide to attend Sasquatch, so it seemed as though everyone need a day to return to work on Tuesday, and with the exception of the select group of Wilco fans, every stage was fairly barren and open to easy front row access.

Dressed in suits and tuxes, Noah and the Whale came out with a set up equally polished with their well-orchestrated mournful and occasionally inspirational pop tunes. The first time I saw them live a few years ago, the lead singer had apparently just gone through a break-up and their set was a bit of a depressed mess, but in a way, that’s what made them relatable. Now, looking confident and put together, Noah and the Whale lost a bit of their charm, but still surpassed many expectations and presented a lovely set.

Next came beloved Montreal-natives Chromeo on the main stage. As always, Dave-1 and P-Thugg put on the show their fans have come to expect—cocky, smooth, and ironically cheesy. Even though it was the third time I’d caught them live since August, their lovability has far from deteriorated.

90’s four-track, lo-fi college rock kings Guided by Voices took the stage after Chromeo for one of the smallest crowds I observed all weekend at the main stage.

From a distance, the lack of support was a bit understandable; their music didn’t come off well in a large open space like the Gorge and the instrumentation felt dated. But from the pit, hardcore fans joined together, sang along, and helped make Guided by Voices feel at home.

After, Bonobo treated the Banana shack to a DJ set of obscure tracks and mash-ups, coming across as one of the most accessible dance artists of the weekend.

Then, at 7:30, !!! (also known as chk chk chk) brought forth the best set of the day and maybe of the weekend. Somewhat akin to LCD Soundsystem if James Murphy was replaced by a flamboyant karaoke singer at a gay bar, !!!’s lead singer, Nic Offer stormed out with most likely coke-induced energy.

“Don’t kick the photographers out of the pit after our first three songs, let them stay in the whole time…. I have a few surprises for them.” With those words, I became painfully aware of the absence of my photographer attending Best Coast instead.

Offer walked through the crowd, tried on audience members’ accessories, posed for photos, and basically cage-danced on the P.A.’s. But in the end, it was the flawless disco/electronic music that held the performance together.

Everything after felt like a bit of a disappointment, especially Wilco, strumming through some even more mellowed out versions of their songs, commenting on how the last time they played at the Gorge was their worst show ever…

But Major Lazer gave what can be best described as a frenzied, womanizing, lawless two-encore performance of crowd-surfing, daggering, and cloth-fucking.

Mental note: if given the choice between a legendary group’s acoustic jam set or Major Lazer—choose Major Lazer.

And with that, comes the conclusion of Sasquatch 2011. Within the next week I’ll have a full overview sorting out my thoughts, observations, and highlights on my first major festival of the year.

Chk Chk Chk Playlist by ChkChkChk

See more photos by Matt Shanafelt from Sasquatch! 2011 via facebook.

*** Editors note: that guy, standing (yes you know the one I’m talking about) is not in a band, but is seriously awesome.

The Barr Brothers are back in Montreal to perform a full show after months of touring that brought them to Canadian Music Week, Japan, SXSW, and a few American cities.

After seeing The Barr Brothers for the first time in Toronto for Canadian Music Week, I have to say I was seriously impressed with their work.

It was invigorating, especially when I was feeling extreme burnout from attending a bunch of shows in such a short period of time; The Barr Brothers raised my spirits with their cerebral, harp influenced bluesy rock.

The Barr brothers have a story to tell: Whether it’s a story about having epic battle in front of the living-room television while growing up in Toronto, or the story about how the modern day version of the band formed in Montreal. For the Brothers, there is always a story to tell.

The Brothers had spent most of their early musical carrier in The Slip, a band that would eventually disbanded to form The Barr Brothers. That Spring the band played in a venue in the Plateau, which happened to catch that fire. After that incident, seeing it as a good omen, only one year later, Brad and Andrew Barr moved to Montreal.

Brad lived in the same apartment with Sarah Page, a classically trained harpist from Montreal, who had an itch for experimentation. Her music seep through Brad’s wall and eventually he would ask her to join the group.

The group now consists of   Brad Barr (guitar, vocals), Sarah Page (harp, voice), Andrew Barr (drums, voice), Andres Vial (bass, keys, voice).

And boy! do they have their sound down; the way they perform together creates incredibly ominous ambience-especially with the amazing sound coming from ethereal harp. What can I say? I have a soft spot for harps and violins.

The variance fo their music is also very intriguing; as it can sway between Buddhist position on a top of a mountain with songs like Beggar in the morning, to an ally way blues cover of Lord I Just Keep From Cryin’.

Barr Brothers – “Beggar In The Morning” by indiemusicfilter

Their last album recorded in their makeshift studio in an old boiler room was written over the course of adopting their new city, Montreal. Along with Sarah (Lhasa DeSela/Amon Tobin), the record also features Miles Perkin (Lhasa DeSela), Elizabeth Powell (Land of Talk), Nathan Moore, Jocie Adams (The Low Anthem), Elvis Perkins and Emma Baxter, and is beyond excellent.

Elfin Saddle

What did you expect an army of elves on horseback?

With influences in experimental, folk and Japanese classical music, they bring exotic and wonder of new sounds in your ear.     After listening to a few tracks how can you not want to see them live in concert?

 

Check out The Barr Brothers and Elfin Saddle on Thrusday, June 2 @ Cabaret Mile End

5240, Avenue du parc
doors / show: 8:30pm / 9:30pm
Tickets: $12.00 or   $15.00 at the door

 

Photo Courtesy of Chris Zacchia

Upon arrival, the first thing that caught our eyes at Sasquatch 2011 were the endless Vancouver Canucks flags. After entering the grounds, things were not much different with hundreds of jerseys worn in support of the squad representing Canada in the upcoming Stanley Cup Finals.

During the set of the Trailer Park Boys, a Canadian comedy troupe, chants of “CA-NA-DA” came and went. The group played off the homegrown fans and riffed on Canadian currency and the fitting gag from their show of “Sam-sqatch.”

Unfortunately, the set felt a bit forced and the mics were too quiet, so very few of the jokes actually landed. The audience didn’t seem to mind, though—they were just content to be in the presence of the idols they had come to love.

“I can’t believe it, fuckin’ Ricky and Julian are right there! Where’s Bubbles? This is the greatest moment of my life!” Those were the words of a Sasquatch-tripper right behind us, who seemed on the verge of tears for most of the set.

Really, that fan represented the atmosphere of Sasquatch this year: amazing. Everyone has been relaxed, elated, and completely in sync with the performers.

They showed their appreciation with screams and sing-a-longs to the first artist we caught, Aloe Blacc. His band was over fifteen minutes late and he was another ten after them, but when he skyrocketed from backstage, adorned in a purple button down, vest, and fedora, the energy soared.

Aloe jumped right into the vocals and dancing, greeting the crowd with the cheer-worthy message of, “My name is Aloe Blacc and I’m here to sing some soul music.”

His aura was undeniable and the crowd loved it, but nothing could compare to my personal highlight of the day, Washed Out.

Led by Ernest Greene, who I have an interview tentatively planned with, Washed Out breezed through a set of layered synths and bass riffs. Playing in the tent designated for electronic artists, they deserve respect for utilizing a full band amongst a series of keyboard-only DJs.

Washed Out unveiled a new song, taking its live v-card for Sasquatch and opening up a new emotional dynamic to their music. They successfully walked the rarely attempted tightrope of simultaneous emotions and danceable beats. Not to mention, the strangest group of musicians I’ve seen in a while (see: pictures).

I packed it in early, still adjusting to the switch from London to Northwest time, but according to the people I spoke with about Bassnectar’s late night set, he phoned it in with a mediocre DJ set and easy drops, making me thankful to have not deprived myself of much-needed sleep.

Looking back, it was a fantastic day with a perfect audience. Everyone is friendly and open to each other, because they know that anyone with the know-of-all to attend Sasquatch is probably someone worthwhile to get acquainted with. Well, then again, maybe its just because they’re all Canadian.

Washed Out – “Eyes Be Closed” by Stereo/Pirate

See more photos by Matt Shanafelt from Sasquatch! 2011 via facebook.

What can you expect at a Lachine Canal Pirate Party? Maybe a few pirates prancing around with loot, eventually forming a conga line and   dancing off the plank?

Ahoy Matey! These are not  your father’s scurvy ridden, sea motion addled pirates. These pirates like to party-down!

The Pirates of the Lachine Canal are a community based promotions group with a focus on the south west of Montreal (encompassing the neighbourhoods of St. Henri, Griffintown, Verdun, Pointe St-Charles, Ville-Emard, Little Burgundy and N.D.G.)–the group started so musicians and hipsters who lived in the south west would have a venue to hang out, perform and listen to great music.

From there it developed into a thriving underground music scene, and brought a now flourishing nightlife to the area.

There wasn’t   much to do in terms of nightlife before the mid 2000’s in the southwest. The pirates have brought  fun, parties, good music, good times, and a more or less buccaneer attitude to the music scene;   sailing around the marginal regions, treading darker, more experimental waters.

Oh, you might remember the days of their live outdoor shows. Unfortunately Parks Canada had their way and interfered during an outdoor premiere Bar-B-Q. So now, most of their shows are held inside.

As a production company they have been quite successful. Some of the bands they have promoted in the past have gone on to great things. You’ve probably heard of a few of these names: Jay Reatard, Times New Vikings, Tyvek, Clockcleaner, Human Eye, Vivian Girls, etc.

Performing this Saturday (May 21) at 9:30 will be : SXW Rager, Fried Alive Membrane boys! Porn Persons and Father Dust.The event is pay-what-you-can and will take place at the Fattal building, 617 St. Remi street (enter through the parking lot and hit the stretch along the train tracks. Beware of the razor sharp fence with vicious barking dogs…Just kidding!)

I’ll meet you at the edge of the Plank. Land Ho!

Photo courtesy of the Montreal Mirror (2008).

To a certain (albeit small) percentage of the world, London’s Fabric is the Mecca of nightclubs.

Founded slightly over a decade ago in a (paradoxically) historic building, Fabric boasts more height than width. Three separate dancefloors on three separate stories create an atmosphere appealing to anyone who subscribes to the mantra of “variety is the spice of life”. Each floor hosts multiple DJs a night and hundreds, sometimes thousands of dancers. With a roughly 2,000 capacity, every floor is always packed.

If there’s any variation in clientele per room, though, it is likely due to one of Fabric’s biggest draws—Room One’s “bodysonic dancefloor”, in which 400 bass transducers emit the deepest frequencies of the already bass-heavy music being spun by the current DJ. Fabric views music as a multi-dimensional experience and allowing clubbers to literally “feel” the music vibrating up through their feet to the rest of their bodies is a necessity in floor design.

FabricLive, their Friday night “soundclash” is all about the bass: Room One is likely most akin to an all night earthquake that thousands of British clubbers felt like starting a dance party on. Each DJ and room focuses on various genres, but dubstep, drum & bass, and electro are at the core. Almost every self-respecting, bass-obsessed DJ has made an appearance at FabricLive, and one of the highlights of this upcoming Friday will be Room One’s dedication to Boys Noize Records.

Boys Noize have made a name for themselves within the hard electro community, playing at multiple festivals across the world, and are sure to put on an intense show along with their fellow record-label companions.

Not all artists at Fabric are as universally accepted as Boys Noize, though—because Fabric has made a priority of helping to break out and showcase underground DJs. It’s all about the music and having the most memorable night possible, so a big name isn’t all it takes to get on the bill.

Fabric has its priorities in order and that’s one of the key reasons it is consistently ranked as either number one or close to number one on every club ranking possible. And five sound-systems, three bars, 25,000 square feet, a 24-hour liquor license, and unisex toilets probably don’t hurt either.

So in advance, I would like to thank the promoters at Fabric to granting me access as a member of the press, because no matter what happens, my night at Fabric will generate a story worth retelling.

photo one drom.sk and photo two fixup.se.

What of the healing power of Half Baked?

Well, before I saw them play at Esco Bar on Friday, I was coming down with an atrocious spring flu, green gunk and all.

Ill, tired, and a little sad and weak, unable to enjoy a cigarette without that awful smell caused by having a blocked nose (and yes, I need to smoke when I’m sick because it makes me fell better!); I was in desperate need of a shaman; someone to bring the energy back into my life.

Instead, I got the lead singer/bassist from Half Baked throttling himself around, kind of  like a madman–but it was good enough for me. In a matter of minutes my energy was restored. I was healed!

Formed as a high school project in Sherbrooke in the late nineties, Half Baked have produced six albums since their inception in 2001. Now based in Montreal, they’re an ever changing line-up, a band that has evolved into what can only be called a mixing of brilliance and stupidity in off-kilter punk melodies.

Half Baked‘s music live is like listening to a swirling, downward spiral, of out of control ocean ideas, that never seems to be at the right place, or at the right time. “An oddity”, “a never ending work in progress”, “a good time”, these are just a few short sentences you could say if you see them live in concert. Especially if you rare convalescing from a serious ailment!

Before they took the stage, Half Baked left the crowd waiting because their bassist, Yann Godbout, had not yet arrived. He eventually showed up with a reasonable explanation–perhaps, the last bit of reasonable thought for the rest of the evening–he was detained by cops, or so he said. Quickly, he grabbed his six string bass and headed for the stage, and started screaming, moving and gyrating to his sometimes funky– sometimes punk music–sometimes electronic sound.

With there kind of wild punk style, it wasn’t a surprise to find them late, or drunk, or falling apart on stage, because that is their act. The “Shtick” as we call it in the business. But it’s a good one. It works well for them.

They played a few songs I recognized off their last album the Century Of Foam for your pleasure (2008), and a few I didn’t, like the song about experimental states of intoxication or as Godbout called it “I am Drunk” which made the crowd swarm to the front.

The opening band, Right By Midnight was a trip back to the nineties (oh, how I miss it!), and if you have a chance please check out their new record on their website.

For more pictures from the show visit us on Facebook. Don’t forget to “Like” us for chances at ticket giveaways, merch and other fun stuff!

Photos by Chris Zacchia

David Byrne of the Talking Heads once said, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.” I’ve recently been thinking of how strange a phenomenon dancing is. Yet all cultures seem to have some form of it, and it is almost always set to music. It seems there is something inherent in music that just makes us want to move.

So, when I go out to a concert, I am hoping to hear good music, but also need to see and feel energy, and movement. Indeed, the live performance is about aural and visual stimulus, but it’s also very much about a two-way exchange of energy between the performer(s) and the audience.

Excuse this roundabout entry into my experience with Tame Impala, but on Sunday night, I caught their set at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto and couldn’t help but feel this void afterwards. It’s a shame; musically, the concert was excellent. The boys opened with a solid performance of Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind, a sleepy tune with some really cool guitar textures (my friend and I were shocked that these sounds we heard on the record were not synthesizers, but guitars!).

They powered through three or four songs without saying a word in between. I do feel that more bands should adopt this practice if I had the choice between banter or another song, I’d always choose the latter. That said though, this is perhaps only safe if the band develops a connection with the audience during the songs. Tame Impala failed to do this. They didn’t move! There was little to no “rocking out”, and I felt no connection with the band as a result, nor any desire at all to move myself. From the balcony, I could see maybe ten people dancing on the main level. Aside from a trippy visual projection behind the band, there was little for the rest of us to do but listen.

Halfway through the set though, the band began to show a little more gusto. The rhythm section emitted greater energy during the quicker cut-tempo of Expectation, the most exciting performance of the night by far. They did an amped-up version of Massive Attack’s eerie track, Angel, and finally ended the night off with an uber-extended jam of their Cream homage, Half Glass Full of Wine.

I came out of the theatre a little confused about how I felt. In terms of a musical performance, Tame Impala was very good my ears were quite pleased. However, in terms of a concert experience, I was left unsatisfied. I don’t mean to say that a band must dance around like James Brown in order for me to have a good time; I just need more proof that what I am experiencing is indeed “live”.

Tame Impala – Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind by pcagx

To see more Tame Impala photos by Hannah Jor visit us on Facebook.

This  Friday Night get ready for one very strange trip to the realm of Half-Baked. They’ll be playing live, live, live! For one night, and for one night only!

Are you sick of your parents not letting you eat your breakfast with a fork? Are you tired of the government telling you to pull up your pants?

Then it’s time to come down to St. Denis and listen to a great bands at the always rebellious Esco. Half baked is a francophone band that brings back the fun to strange, and warped music. Hopefully, they will be paying many tunes of their aurally challenging albumn the Century Of Foam for your pleasure (2008).

Are they the rock terrorists that they claim to be? With influences like the Residents, Melvins, Primus, Mr.Bungle, Les Georges Leningrad, Laibach, they are definitely listening to the right type of music to be considered ‘on the margins’.

Their music mixes the genres of punk, rock and power pop music that will make you move to their experimental groove.

Hailing from Sherebrook, Quebec, Half Baked formed in 1998 as a project for high school. Now based in Montreal, they are known for being highly experimental, but with a twist of   loose fun pop, delivering some of the weirdest auditory experiences with their wild and erratic drum solos.

Right by midnight will also be bringing their soothing driving tunes and nineties rock to the mix. Their musicsounds slightly like early Tragically Hip, especially the reaspy voice fo singer/guitarist Charles Downey.   Having just released their Debut self titled album, I am really looking forward to seeing them perform.

Show starts 8:30 pm on Friday, May 6th
@ Esco Bar 4467 St, Denis

Bring your pants!

Advanced tickets are $6 or 4-for-$19 at indiemontreal.ca  or $8 @ the door.

Okay, I admit it! Sometimes I can be a little snobbish. I don’t really like it when a place is too packed–too sweaty, or when I feel I could be the mother of the kids in a nightclub (okay, I’m exaggerating here…I’m not even 30 yet). I normally tend to stay away from hip events like the first visit of the new «dubstep » idol David Kennedy, a.k.a Ramadanman, at Club Lambi. However, last Thursday, I decided to listen to the kid in me since the young producer seemed to have something new to offer to the scene.

The evening started with a bottle of gin and some great storytelling at my place with a friend, who had just arrived from Europe. The mood was set and around 1am we decided to brave the cold weather and headed to Lambi. We, unfortunately, missed Zed Bias set, Ramadanman was already spinning and it felt like the tropics in there. As feared, most of the people were under 20 years old but with the help of my friend’s gin, I didn’t care much, and I was there to dance!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFd63W_bTx4

Kennedy, despite his young age, had impressive music knowledge, and didn’t limit himself to dubstep. We heard a fair amount of house, hip-hop, acid house, breakbeat and, of course, dubstep. This set brought back the memories of a time when Peer Pressure used to host parties at vinyl and where you could hear a blend of hip hop and electro for a diverse crowd. I would have loved to see more interaction with the enthusiastic dancers, but we can’t ask every DJ to act like rockstars.

Talking about the crowd… it was quite annoying to see a couple of groupies wasted on the stage sending text messages.  I mean, fine, you want to get closer to the DJ but do you really have to be so addicted to your phone?

Overall, it was a good night and it made me step out of the deep-house bubble I was in since I got back from Europe. Summer is at our doorstep and this party was a great reminder that hip-hop inspired beat is the best to set a crowd on fire. If you’re curious about Ramadanman’s DJ skills you should listen to this mix he made for Sunday Best.

Ramadanman Remix Showreel by Reprise Agency

Photo from last.fm

The night could best be summed up by two sentences overheard between the stage and the audience during the Acid Mothers Temple (AMT) set.

After the first jam, better classified as an eruption of noise (or chaos ignoring any traditional song structure or melody), guitarist Kawabata Makoto looked across the mostly hallucinogenic experimenting audience and asked in broken English, “By the way, have you seen a flying saucer?”

His question was met with a divergent mixture of poor attempts at laughter and adamant confirmations.
The response was a microcosm of the disparity between crowd members, split half-and-half between drugged-out diehards and bar patrons, who stumbled into the strangest set of their lives.

Of the drunken party-goers from the latter group, a few successfully made the transition into fan; potentially assisted by the merchandise of one of the several trench coat and sunglasses adorned gentlemen standing on the outskirts of the audience.

One of the converted spoke for the rest when he yelled, after AMT returned for an encore, “YOU ARE EXPERIMENTAL!” and then mustered a revering banshee howl generating pleased smiles from the stage.

Those smiles   led to a well-deserved encore;   a monstrous set-closer of epic proportions, composed of a steady half an hour build-up that somehow managed to be breathtaking the whole way through. The length was not unusual, no song clocked in at less than ten minutes during their jam-heavy set, but what was notable was the careful patience and powerful utilization of dynamics. Engaged the whole way through, the crowd was sent into hysteria, begging for an encore upon the conclusion of the set’s trance-inducing highlight.

The most consistent attributes to each song during AMT’s live performance were the metal-influenced guitar solos representing pure insanity let loose on an instrument. Makoto‘s fury of sporadic notes exploding from his heavily reverbed and distorted amp audibly recreated Jimi Hendrix’s most daring improvisations (e.g., the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock). Visually, he wasn’t far off either, with his solos climaxing to his unstrapped white Fender being thrown and spun in every possible direction: upside down, backwards, or above his long curly hair and beard. At times, I couldn’t help but wonder if Hendrix had been reincarnated in 1970’s Japan and given the opportunity to grow up in a more progressive music scene.

On the opposite side of the stage was Tsuyama Atsushi, bassist and occasional lead singer, who with the aid of an always entertaining loop pedal, layered endless eastern chants, murmurs, and sounds into avant-garde foundations for jams.

The portions of the set that focused on a mostly instrumental approach to psychedelic dark metal brought to mind the Flaming Lips latest album, Embryonic, even though AMT has been perfecting the craft of that genre for decades before the Lips even begin to dabble with it.

But that’s just the nature of experimental music, especially when instrumental—overlooked and under-appreciated, claiming only a cult status as the group that did it first.

Something about the playful banter and the intimate setting seemed to suggest that AMT couldn’t be more content with their current situation—becoming a household name was never a priority for any of them.

Thanks to the select few fanatics, AMT fed off their energy and summoned an intensity level that carried the music to the next level. The intensity was the most apparent similarity between them and their opening act, Shilpa Ray & Her Happy Hookers. Each member of both groups managed to produce more sweat than a Pollock paintbrush splatters paint, causing me to stand back a few inches from my prime location against the stage.

It was a night of relentless noise, causing me and my New York friends to lose a good level of hearing ability over the next few days. But then again, maybe it was a blessing to help block out some of New York City’s endless horns and sirens.

Either way, an outsider’s enjoyment of the show comes down to a simple matter of point of view.
For some, AMT sounds like your new neighbor’s garage band, who you could’ve sworn moved into the neighborhood straight from the depths of Hell just to torture you.

And for some, that’s a good thing.

For more photos from the show visit us on facebook.

Photos by Alexander Fonseca


In a word: Badass. None of this “acoustic folk rock” which permeates YouTube generating endless artsy hipster covers. The Black Angels deliver that kind of kick-in-the-guts rhythm of a proper rock band, without wanky guitar solos. They build their songs on simple yet kickass riffs backed with the awesome keys and vocals by Alex Maas.

For a self proclaimed “Psychedelic Rock” band, I expected more. I expected tripped out guitar soloing, more weird effects, ugly shoes, and definitely more multi-coloured headbands. That isn’t to say I was disappointed; in fact I was enthralled. Good music is still good music, expectations or none; the true nature of psychedelia frees your mind and alters your perception of the world around you.

Nearly all the band members switched instruments at some point. It seemed like everyone played guitar- one would be inclined to think at times that three guitarists and a bassist would lose effectiveness, sounding akin to three screaming kids, and a dog in a minivan, although surprisingly, their sound was crisp, tight and balanced with almost Beatles-esque backing vocals. I couldn’t help but draw comparisons with Screaming Trees, Same the Sham and The Pharaohs or The Doors’ punchy 60’s rock.

The Black Angels’ strongest trait has to be playing a flawless live show. No feedback, no missed notes, and no weak moments or bad jokes. They build up to a crescendo so well, it’s all you can do not to spill your beer on everyone around you while dancing (or bobbing and weaving grotesquely in my case). Stephanie Bailey’s monster skin pounding is so good it could make Jon Bonham’s daughter write angry YouTube comments for a month. It’s infectious. Have a listen. If you have neighbours, annoy them. If you have roommates, wake them up. This kind of music was never meant to be played quietly.

The Black Angels seem like a throwback to the time of raw, analog sound while still keeping their approach modern. Ask Christian Bland (guitar and bass) about his gear, and he’ll happily indulge you in a conversation. Cheers with their manager, and he’ll push you up onstage for a better angle on a photo. Push your way to the front of a crowded venue, and you just might have a better time than everyone standing at the bar. There is just something about craning your neck in front of the stage at a packed rock show that resonates with a certain nerve in the brain. It’s psychedelia.

The Black Angels – Haunting At 1300 McKinley by divisionpromotions

The Black Angels played at Sala Rossa on April 12, 2011. For more photos from The Black Angels live in Montreal visit us on Facebook.

“What a long, strange trip it’s been” sang the The Grateful Dead. Little did they know that the iconic song Truckin’ would perfectly described my trip to Toronto for Canadian Music Week. There were some disappointments, and there were some eventful surprises, and then, there were the not so “eventful” things that happened–shameful, very shameful drunken shirtless, pants-less things, that I’ve decided to keep in the vault.

Now to rock out the way I did, you will need a mix of a few items; shaken not stirred. Please use the following ingredients to make rock n’ roll happened:

guitars,

sex,

drugs,

cigarettes,

and rubbing alcohol…

Okay, well, maybe not the rubbing alcohol!– I swear, your honour, I only used one, maybe two, of these substances at a time!

Now, I’m ready to self-destruct faster than a whiskey bottle in a shattered hotel room. So here is my overview from Canadian Music Week before I burn out faster than a rock star!

Instead of focusing on the negative―and there were a few negatives, i.e. the”Indie awards” (the event where the word “indie” went to die–what’s so “indie” about indie music at the Indies when the Indies are sponsored by major corporations? Can I say indie one more time? Indie!)―I will instead try to focus on the successes of the week.

Best venue

In the last day I was more reckless that usual. I went randomly searching for the right venue, but by the end of the night I was usually picking venues and shows out of a hat. I consider myself, a very, very unlucky person. And that is why I think I ended up at Hard Luck. Hard Luck is a “dive” bar- but you will find Pabst there at least. And for that reason and for resembling the very narrow and homey Barfly of Montreal I give them the Venue of the week award! Congratulations!

And now it’s time of the big prizes. Drum roll please! It’s time for the top 5 performances from Canadian Music Week:

5) Lunic. Yes, this luscious Manhattan duet are extremely pleasing on the eye. There performance was very electrorock oriented but sounded pretty distinct. I couldn’t help swaying my head back and forth to their beats. Beautiful and dark, there songs offered a lot of promise especially the song hypnotized- I kept playing it over and over again on myspace. The experience reminded me of finding a   great article of clothing at at thrift. You know if you look hard enough you will find something special.

 

4) Cuff the Duke.There was so much to expect. I anticipated and I really wasn’t let down. The show went on great although the venue was hot and humid with human sweat. The boys played an excellent set. Plus, I got to hoe down. Need I say more?

3) Bachman Turner. The shock and surprise of seeing Sammy Hagar play with these guys was truly aorta straining. Watching them jam out was an exultingly early 80’s experience. I wish I wore my spandex pants!

2) The Barr Brothers. They were a pick out of a hat. But what   n delightful evening, my first evening seem to go negative, this group of harpist seraphic angels that came in to save the day! The harp made me believe in a   heaven. Thank you guys! Please check out their music they ill bring positivity to your day.

1) Kurt Vile and the Violators. This show was not a surprise. You can feel something special while I was there, like it was only a matter of time before Kurt Vile was making it big―kind of the way I felt when I saw Wilco many years ago. The event itself was cerebral and touching. The audience reaction was kind of like my own reaction–in a state of trance. The Great Hall, the venue he played at, was also was very cool. and memorable. Overall, it was one of the best shows I saw that week.

See more CMW photos on Facebook.

The Balconies

A girl who can circle head bang while holding her own on the guitar should garner any audience member’s respect, which is exactly the kind of stage antics that Balconies front-girl Jacquie Neville was going for.

The Balconies were deceiving, with a slow start; the audience was half-heartedly nodding, but the band never faltered. Their sound was consistently tight, and while the first song kind of came across as a lucid sound-check warm up, the band took off with the next song, drawing the audience into their jumpy young rock.

Jacquie Neville impressed the teenaged audience members with a series of weird yoga-like lunge moves, pelvic thrusts and lots of bending over in her high-waisted spandex pants, all while maintaining some furious and solid guitar playing. She even threw in a little solo that seemed to be derived from the 12-bar blues. Her vintage-looking Fender wasn’t bad either. At one point, there was an enthusiastic drum breakdown, at which point Jacquie did some little Flash-Dance two-step in time with the four-on-the-floor and cymbal crashes. As for the music itself, it was surprisingly not bad, and computer previews actually failed to convey the frenzied energy the young band brought to the stage.

The songs, which at first started out at as yawnable, hastily escalated into a fever pitch, and then of course there was Jacquie’s circle head-banging.

Suddenly undersexed boys are yelling that she’s hot, one lone gangly youth begins crowd surfing, and then they break into their hit single, Serious Bedtime. The instruments fall away and it’s just Stephen and Jacquie Neville singing, “If you do it in the dark, in the dark, no one sees it…” And Jacquie’s doing these PG-13 dance movies that show audience members exactly how she behaves when she does it in the dark.

Balconies brought a tight manic sound to the stage; their set was polished and lead singer Jacquie’s vocals were wildly impressive as she hit long screams of sound, overtop of sugary dance rock, and while the disco-infused hard pop style isn’t for everybody, they definitely blew the young and excitable crowd away.

COLD WAR KIDS
As for Cold War Kids, well, one wonders if they get their name from the apathetic way they played this show. The band didn’t take a cue from their opener, and get hotter as they went along; no, maintained a nice and steady lukewarm set throughout. And while Balconies were checking in with their audience, asking how they were feeling and getting the crowd revved up, Cold War Kids seemed to skim over all that and rely on their little fame; it kind of looked like they were playing for…themselves. Somewhere toward the end of the show, they did play an audience-requested song, which brought a small cheer, but other then that, the performance as a whole was pretty blasé.

Ironically enough, Cold War Kids chose to lead their audience into a sing-a-long on a song called, Dreams old men dream, which lyrics consist of, “I don’t care”, over and over again. In the middle of the set they played what is probably their most well-known song, Hang me out to Dry. The song itself was repetitive and obnoxious, but the audience sang along and lead singer Jonnie Russell seemed to enjoy it the most out of anyone involved.

Cold War Kids played a song called Skip the Charade off their new album, and most of the audience started singing along the most enthusiastically to a song called, Audience of 1. Russell took time outs from his guitar to lean on his keyboard and smash blindly away on the keys for a few songs, and they finished the set early, in order to get an obvious encore. They got one, but it was no surprise that it was coming, as the roadie was already out tuning the guitar before fans even had a chance to ask for one.

All in all, Cold War Kids should have been opening for the Balconies.

Want more? Come see more show photos on our facebook page. We’ve got lots and lots of instruments.

Jeremy McLaughlin and Kyle Albright - Photo: Ethan Cox

On Thursday night the NDP held their Youth Campaign launch at Cabaret Playhouse. The show was held to prep for the upcoming election and to galvanize the youth vote,   especially towards getting the NDP re-elected in Outremont and perhaps winning a few more seats in Quebec during the next Federal election. The youth wing put on a excellent show. The music was great, the people there were   interesting, and actually talked about issues, and not just about getting elected (like some other parties out there. You know who you are! Now bow your head in shame).

It was definitely good to be there with people that share the same commitment to social justice and progressive politics. Even if you weren’t a member of the NDP before you arrived, you might have left a commie socialist tree-hugger; It was that good!

The night kicked off with a spirited round of acoustic sets by locals Eleanor Altman and Elgin Skye, and New Brunswick’s Jeremy McLaughlin and Kyle Albright.

Altman kicked the night off with a short set of almost operatic songs that gave her strong, beautiful voice a chance to soar. While some were comparing her to an early Sarah McLachlan, the music that accompanied her voice left something to be desired.

Elgin Skye is an angelic cutie with a striking voice and great range who accompanied herself on both the guitar and ukelele. Her songs were quite well received by the crowd, which was in the area of 60 or more for most of the night.

The duo of McLaughlin and Albright, who form two-fifths of Fredericton’s acclaimed folk-rock band, Oh No, Theodore!, were loud and proud and ramped up the crowd with their foot stomping melodies and sing-along choruses.

Lead singer Chelsey Walsh from The F in Fresh was fun to watch. They put on an intense, lively and energetic performance that was as fun to listen to as gulping down cheap beer. The drumming really stood out in a tight and crowd pleasing set that got the second half of the night off to a good start.

I will eat your children! Darling Ghost performing – Photo: Ethan Cox

Darling Ghost played their always enigmatic set, including some beautifully inspired singing from Sheena Bernett and some fantastic cello. Their tunes really reach out and you could tell the audience was under a deeply captivating spell. Definitely a band to look out for, if you’re into drinking whiskey by the bar. They even played their chilling song Black & White. The cello and upright bass are power tools for this awesome funeral procession.

Dapinknoise are always fun. they got the crowd moving with their fat electronic sound that mixes well with the crooning style of the singer, who reminds me of David Bowie getting funky with his bad-self. It was one   euphoniously trippy experience.

The evening was closed off with a performance by Jef Barbara, who played some crazy electronic synth-funk-pop that was as great as waking up to a steaming cup of coffee. You can say, the man’s got talent. You can tell why he is getting quite a following   locally and in Europe. Check out the song Wild Boys if you get the chance.

He really capped off a surprisingly good night for music, even though I was tired and not particularly politically motivated. On the whole, it was a great night for the NDP, and for those of us lucky enough to be there. The NDP got some cards signed and engaged a great crowd with a variety of excellent music. If an election comes soon, the NDP is looking stronger than ever in Quebec.

With contributions from Ethan Cox. Hate-mail regarding the poor quality of photos can also be addressed to him.

What happens when you open your heart to yourself and take time to listen to your spirit? Can you actually do that without losing yourself? Is it possible to let the dead lay at rest? Sure is and seeing Jenn Grant perform last Thursday, February 24 at Le Divan Orange reminds you that, it’s okay…it’s okay to be happy, cheerful and enjoy everything around you. And like popish music (okay, I’ve admitted I like..love popish music. I blame Simon Cowell and the Spice Girls).

Jenn Grant is the type of performer who’s sweet charm and corresponding melodies make you feel like you’re in a live music dream. A really pretty dream that you feel from the tips of your baby yellow, painted toe nails to your black stained mascara eye lashes. Her music is just so, so pretty. And her live set makes you want to go cloud jumping.

A packed venue is always a good sign that this performer is wanted and this performer will deliver. I’ve watched numerous videos of Jenn Grant live, heard concerts via radio2.ca and have been longing to see her for a couple of years. As she sways back and forth, singing her enchanting and memorable tunes, you realize that no other medium of her music can come close to her live set. She sounds exactly the same live as she does recorded (very rare). She’s clever, cute and endearing. If you were there you could probably agree that you heard her sweet folky, pop melodies pour from her little mouth, filling Le Divan Orange with a sense of Valentine’s Day love.

Playing a mixture of her old favourites and new songs like Dreamer and Baby’s Been Away, the whole set was musically balanced and gave you a little dose of everything you wanted from her. Everyone seemed to have their eyes locked to the stage. Jenn’s someone you can’t really take your eyes off of, she’s the perfect example of the girl next door – and you love it.

Of course, you’d have to see her sweetness and hear her dove-like songs for yourself. Good thing she’s on a nationwide tour promoting her new album, Honeymoon Punch. If you enjoy pretty music sung by a pretty girl than book her in – it’s a well worth dose of melancholic love and hope, along with dreams of future fun.

TAKE NOTE: David Martel

If you like folk, pop mixed with heavy instrumentals check out David Martel. He was on stage before Jenn Grant, and he blew me away with his live act. He engulfed my ears with a familiar east coast sound that I miss. He’s amazing live. His voice takes to the walls of the room, pulling everything in, leaving you feeling as though you’re the only one in the room who’s seeing all this happen. If you’re claustrophobic, then he breaks down the walls, opens the room and fills it with endless possibilities of exits doors that you hope he’s behind. I prefer him live versus his recordings (live just has more life).

Cool beans.

Lots coming up in the next two weeks. We’ve got We Are The City and Rah Rah, plus Canadian Music Week in TO. Oh man, it’s all gonna be awesome.

Indie Montreal hosted Jenn Grant live @ Le Divan Orange. The entire line-up worked well, complementing each other’s sound. Make sure get in on that Jenn Grant action and check out David Martel.

Photos: Chris Zacchia

For more photos of Jenn Grant’s live set check us out on facebook.